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LINGUIST List 24.2766

Mon Jul 08 2013

Review: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics: Baraldi & Gavioli (2012)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <jsalmonslinguistlist.org>

Date: 23-May-2013
From: Zhiai Liu <zl761york.ac.uk>
Subject: Coordinating Participation in Dialogue Interpreting
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-5265.html

EDITOR: Claudio Baraldi
EDITOR: Laura Gavioli
TITLE: Coordinating Participation in Dialogue Interpreting
SERIES TITLE: Benjamins Translation Library 102
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Zhiai Liu, University of York

The primary focus of this edited volume is to explore the complexity of
interaction in dialogue, community or public service interpreting. It consists
of an introduction and 12 chapters. The main contributions cover discourse
analysis and conversation analysis, sociocultural approaches to interaction,
multilingualism and contact linguistics and how to combine studies of
interaction with psychological or sociological theories (p.2). Specific
attention is given in each chapter to a different aspect of
interpreter-mediated interaction with various analytic methods and from a
particular perspective (p.xi). Empirical data were collected from
naturally-occurring interactions in media, healthcare and legal settings
involving interlocutors from different language communities with different
forms of talk (pp.17-18).

In the introduction, “Understanding coordination in interpreter-mediated
interaction”, the editors Claudio Baraldi and Laura Gavioli point out that the
book’s focus is dialogue interpreting. Then, Baraldi and Gavioli lay out
Wadensjö’s (1998) concept of coordination as a theoretical basis for analyzing
interpreters’ activities and reflecting on the sensitive issue of the
interpreter’s role around three main notions: coordination, mediation and
participation. This chapter also outlines the book’s organization and provides
a brief summary of each chapter. The editors conclude with four areas of
future research directions and call for more in-depth reflection on how to
integrate social, cultural and cognitive competencies with the current
comprehension of the interpreting process (p.17).

Chapter 1, by Helen Tebble, asks the question “Interpreting or interfering?”
Instead of producing a simple answer, she first discusses in detail the
existing debate among scholars regarding the role of dialogue interpreters. By
analyzing the professional role definition in the guidelines of the Code of
Ethics of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) and
a study of medical interpreting in Australia, Tebble clearly demonstrates how
the interpreter coordinates and repairs talk when communication broke down due
to human errors. This study makes a clear contribution in distinguishing the
metalinguistic function as a means of coordination from intentional
interference such as addition or omission initiated by the interpreter.

The concept of participation is at the heart of Chapter 2, “Interpreting
participation: Conceptual analysis and illustration of the interpreter’s role
in interaction”. Franz Pöchhacker provides a broad theoretical discussion on
the interpreter’s role and establishes multi-level frameworks according to the
level of the interpreter’s involvement. The author then presents two sets of
video-recorded encounters selected from an existing larger corpus data, one
from a hospital outpatient department involving a lay interpreter and the
other one from an asylum tribunal involving a professional interpreter. This
study reveals the complexity of the interpreter’s participation and argues
that the interpreter’s participatory role is constrained by institutional and
professional requirements at the event level and his or her activities are
decided by hyper-textual goals at the utterance level (pp.66-67). Furthermore,
the author finds that the professional interpreter tends to be more
constrained to the ratified interpreter’s role than the lay interpreter.
Finally, Pöchhacker closes this chapter by urging future sociolinguistic
research on participation in discourse to a cognitive perspective.

The context of chapter 3, “‘You are not too funny’: Challenging the role of
the interpreter on Italian talkshows,” is an Italian interpreter-mediated
talkshow, which differs from that of other chapters in the higher level of
interpreter’s visibility and involvement. Francesco Straniero Sergio argues
that due to the entertaining nature of live shows and the host’s control of
the proceedings, the concept of controlling participation is more appropriate
for an analysis of the interpreter’s role management than the concept of
coordinating understanding. This study demonstrates that the interpreter uses
various face-saving techniques including corrections, repair-formulation
repetitions, requests for clarification, footing shifts, and acceptability
repairs and adopts “a multifarious mediation role” (p.95).

Chapter 4, “Ad hoc interpreting for partially language-proficient patients:
Participation in multilingual constellations” by Bernd Meyer, portrays how a
patient’s partial command of the host country’s language affects interaction,
through two sets of recorded data of doctor-patient consultations assisted by
ad hoc interpreters in German hospitals. This chapter attempts to identify
“how transparent language constellations shape the participation framework”
(p.106) rather than the best way to deal with linguistic problems. Drawing on
an observation by Valero-Garcés (2005), the author claims that there are
possibilities of shifting between dyadic and triadic and different types of
participation may exceed the widely accepted interpreter’s role in this type
of interaction.

Utilizing data from healthcare and legal contexts in two Italian cities
between 2003 and 2005, Chapter 5, “Code-switching and coordination in
interpreter-mediated interaction”, focuses on code-switching (CS) by lay and
institutional participants. Laurie Anderson presents one line of research from
a pragmatic-cognitive perspective and another from a linguistic monitoring
perspective (p.116). Gumperz’s concept of contextualization (1992) is the
theoretical foundation. By describing and comparing CS in these two settings,
the author shows a connection between CS and participation with theoretical
and practical implications for future research and interpreter training.
Anderson argues that the coordination difficulties caused by CS require the
interpreter to raise their awareness of the flexibility of their participation
and to develop their understanding of various participant behaviors in
interpreter-mediated interaction to fulfill their role of facilitating

Chapter 6, “Ad hoc interpreting in multilingual work meetings: Who translates
for whom” by Véronique Traverso, explores the organization of sequentiality
and participation when one participant in multilingual work meetings is not
able to speak or understand English. She discusses the interpreter’s role and
conversation analysis from a theoretical perspective. By analyzing the
interpreting coordination process, collaborative translation is identified as
one of the specific characteristics of this type of context (p.166). The
author in addition considers that face-work and categorization and the shift
to and from translation are two important aspects of the interaction that need
more attention.

Ian Mason in chapter 7, “Gaze, positioning and identity in
interpreter-mediated dialogues”, argues that gaze direction and other
non-verbal signals are highly important for displaying attention (p.178) and
managing speaking turns. The study is based on video-recorded immigration
interviews. However, due to the difficulties of studying gaze and the
complexity of this type of triadic interpreter-mediated interactions, the
author has carried out detailed discussion of the arrangement of the research
method and has pointed out the unavailability of ideal corpus of data for the
time being. After analyzing various functions of gaze in connection with that
of other participants, Mason points out his reluctance to assign meanings to
gaze in the data due to cultural differences in the speech community. Mason
finds that gaze patterns closely connect with participants’ “role and status”
and, as a result, imply their “identity and power” (p.178).

Laura Gavioli explores the mediators’ “Minimal responses in
interpreter-mediated medical talk” in Chapter 8 and summarizes vital functions
of turn management, some kinds of translation coordination, such as displaying
understanding and acceptance of translation, suspending or shifting into the
next turn, which overall reflects the mediators’ efforts to achieve
interactional goals. The author begins with a theoretical discussion of the
pragmatic functions and interactional achievements of minimal responses then
focuses on the analysis of “yes”, “no”, and other completions and partial
repetitions (p.201) in audio-recorded data collected from Italian medical
settings. A unique feature of this research is that the mediators involved are
not certified interpreters but qualified professionals who have been through
certain socio-cultural, communicative and linguistic training (p.204), a
specific situation of Italian public service interpreting profession.
Reflecting on the complexity of coordinating understanding and participation
(p.215), Gavioli argues that the mediators’ minimal responses play important
continuing and transmitting functions for regulating turns and coordinating
speech. In addition, skills for managing conversation will be valuable for
both working interpreters, interpreter trainers and researchers.

Chapter 9, “Mediating assessments in healthcare settings” by Daniela Zorzi,
uses a conversation analytic methodology to describe both dyadic and triadic
sequences in audio-recorded mediated encounters in the context of Italian
general clinics and public hospitals. She examines how doctor-initiated
assessment sequences are relevant to negotiating understanding and
co-construction of the mediator-identity. This study acknowledges the multiple
functions of the interpreter in the interaction such as culture broker,
co-diagnostician, co-organizer. Finally, future research on patient-initiated
and mediator-initiated assessment sequences is suggested to understand the
situation of different mediators’ identities more effectively (p.248).

Recognizing that the concept of illness differs across cultural and language
communities (p.252), Claudia V. Angelelli in chapter 10, “Challenges in
interpreters’ coordination of the construction of pain,” focuses on the
specific case of describing and measuring pain in monolingual and bilingual
medical encounters. The author first introduces the disparity between the
institutional mandatory numerical pain-rating scale and the patient’s
subjective way of communicating pain and points out that cultural and
linguistic differences increase the complexity of the situation. Analyzing two
examples from a subset of data belonging to a larger corpus of ethnographic
study carried out by Angelelli (2004) to explore the role of interpreters in a
public hospital in the United States, the author examines how interpreters
provide further explanation and co-construct the patients’ answer. In this
way, interpreters make the expression of pain from two linguistic communities
comprehensible to each other (p.263). Therefore, the finding is that the
interpreters function as active participants in the interaction so that
cultural mediation is achieved for shared understanding.

Chapter 11, “Cultural brokerage and overcoming communication barriers: A case
study from aphasia” by Claire Penn and Jennifer Watermeyer, deals with another
interpreter’s challenge, namely aphasic patients’ communication deficiency in
combination with cultural and linguistic barriers. The interpreter-mediated
encounter presented in this chapter is carefully selected to reflect the
general situation of South African medical interpreting. Then the author
discusses how Conversation Analysis is particularly helpful in understanding
the complex dynamics in such contexts. The interpreter adopts various
strategies, especially side conversation to facilitate information flow. This
study casts light on the medical interpreter’s role as culture broker to
overcome the barriers of culture, worldviews and lifeworld; to assist in
establishing trusting relations though collaboration (p.289); and to ensure
mutual comprehension of the patient’s lifeworld.

In “Interpreting as dialogic mediation: The relevance of expansions,” Claudio
Baraldi uses Baker’s concept of narrative (2006) as the departure point to
introduce dialogic mediation as the focus of this final chapter. Taking data
from the same study used in chapter 5 by Laurie Anderson, the goal is to
discern the pattern of reflective coordination and how it may impact dialogic
mediation from various perspectives. The author especially discusses in
details how co-authorship, trust and empowerment are achieved by the
mediator’s “promotional questions”, multi-part expansions and renditions as
formulations. The key findings are: (1) dialogue interpreting promotes the
construction of new stories; (2) dialogic mediation is personalized cultural
mediation; (3) imperfect interpreting has a positive impact on coordination
and communication.

This book is well organized, with a clear focus on the notion of coordination
in dialogue interpreting. Every chapter opens with an overview of general
goals, central terminologies, issues, implications of the study and context of
data; and closes with a summary of the main contents discussed which helps the
readers navigate the text. The authors, researchers in this field from all
over the world, tackle various aspects of the subject with consistency from
one chapter to another, giving the book thematic coherence. Each chapter shows
reasonable knowledge of previous research, and provides in-depth data

However, the book has certain limitations. First, despite the editors’ efforts
to gather studies representing a variety of contexts, the majority of authors
use data from the healthcare sector, with only three sets from legal settings.
Legal interpreting is a vital component of dialogue, community and public
service interpreting with many unique characteristics. Therefore, the findings
of the chapters in medical contexts may not be generalizable to
interpreter-mediated interactions in legal and other contexts. Secondly,
chapter 2, 10 and 12 use data from a larger corpus of data, but the authors do
not show awareness of the possible limitations of working on a smaller sub-set
of data. Finally, all the chapters favor the interpreter’s role as a mediator
with a consensus voice. Although the main discussion revolves around the
notions of coordination, mediation and participation, other controversial
views may also be worth considering for a better understanding of the
complexity of the interpreter’s role.

Notwithstanding the above weaknesses, this is generally an interesting and
thought-provoking book. It is a merit that it acknowledges the interpreter’s
more visible role, and suggests implications for interpreter education and for
training institutional professionals working with interpreters. It will be a
valuable resource for practicing interpreters, policy makers, interpreter
trainers, those who are working with interpreters, and researchers.

Angelelli, Claudia V. (2004). Medical interpreting and cross-cultural
communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

AUSIT.(2009). AUSIT Code of Ethics.
http://server.dream-fusion.net/ausit2/pics/ethics.pdf (Accessed 6 May, 2013).

Baker, Mona. (2006). Translation and conflict. A narrative account. London:

Gumperz, John J. (1992). 8 Contextualization and understanding. Rethinking
context: Language as an interactive phenomenon, 11, 229.

Valero Garces, Carmen. (2005). Doctor-patient consultations in dyadic and
triadic exchanges. Interpreting, 7(2), 193-210.

Wadensjö, Cecilia. (1998). Interpreting as interaction. New York: Longman.

Zhiai Liu is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of York with
research interest in the training of legal interpreters in the British
judicial system. As a working Public Service interpreter, Liu endeavors to
explore the interactional and cross-cultural issues of the
interpreter-mediated process with the aim of raising general awareness of
legal interpreting as a profession.
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